NBC Sunday School Manual For May 21, 2023 :Topic – AN ETHIOPIAN OFFICIAL BAPTISED.
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SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON FOR YOUR PREPARATION
NBC SUNDAY SCHOOL OUTLINE
Theme of the Month:
THE BIRTH OF THE CHURCH.
DATE: SUNDAY, 21ST MAY, 2023.
TOPIC: AN ETHIOPIAN OFFICIAL BAPTISED.
“And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.” Acts 8:38.
By the end of the lesson, class members should be able to:
● Identify some social factors that hinder people from sharing the gospel today.
● Explain the roles of the Holy Spirit in evangelism.
● Tell someone the lessons they have learnt from Philip’s quick response to the Holy Spirit.
Have you watched one of the most interesting Christian films by Mount Zion with the title, “The Unprofitable Servant”? It is the story of a young Christian who was employed in a company owned by an unbeliever. Unfortunately, he did not know that God purposely made the employment possible so that he could share the gospel with the Executive Director of the company. Many times, he was prompted by the Holy Spirit to preach the message of salvation to his boss whose heart was already prepared by God to receive the message and be saved. The young man wilfully resisted the urge for fear of losing his job. He eventually lost the opportunity as well as the job when God used a new employee to achieve the same purpose. Many times, we get the urge to share the Word of God with people around us but sometimes, we look for excuses and ways to dodge the assignment. What an unwillingness to partner with God in bringing the lost to His kingdom!
After the death of Stephen, there was a great persecution of the Early Church. The believers left Jerusalem and wherever they went, they preached the good news, in Judea and Samaria as Jesus had instructed them (Acts 1:8). At last, the proclamation of the good news was extended outside Jerusalem with more opportunity to share the Word of God. Thereafter, God commanded Philip to go southward, precisely to the Ethiopian eunuch, the treasurer of Ethiopia, to share the gospel with him. Today’s lesson focuses on Philip’s prompt obedience to God’s command. His immediate obedience led him to the chariot of the Ethiopian Eunuch and he offered him the opportunity to physically identify with Christ through water baptism after leading him to Christ.
THE LESSON EXPLAINED…
A. PROMPTED BY THE SPIRIT:
A great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem and all the brethren, except the apostles, scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. They kept proclaiming the Word of God wherever they went (Acts 8:1-4). However, the apostles did not relent in their effort to preach Christ. According to verse 26, an angel appeared to Philip and commanded him saying, “Go south to the road-the desert road-that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” Although the angel did not tell Philip the reason for the command, he responded promptly. On his way, he met an Ethiopian eunuch returning from Jerusalem after worship. He was reading from the book of prophet Isaiah, where the prophet described the coming of the ‘Servant of the Lord’ who will represent the living God (Isaiah 53:7-8; 42:1-4). The Spirit further commanded Philip to “Go to that chariot and stay near it” (v. 29). The command to preach the gospel to all nations was the last instruction Jesus gave to believers (Matthew 28:19ff; Acts 1:8). Unfortunately today, people are not faithful to this command because of some barriers like language, culture, distance, fear of persecution, unwillingness, ignorance of the importance of the Great Commission and so on.
The lesson is a picture of how God prompts and leads believers through His Spirit in fulfilling divine assignments. Although the Ethiopian eunuch was powerful (the chief treasurer to a Queen) and pious, he lacked the knowledge of God. However, because of his desire for salvation, Philip was prompted by the Spirit to go to him, thereby breaking the barrier. Whenever God gives assignment, He also gives adequate instructions at every point in time as well as the enablement. The instruction to Philip was clear and direct even though he was not told where to go yet, he obeyed. Interestingly, he was instructed to go to the chariot and the purpose for the prompting was finally revealed. As we commit ourselves to preaching the gospel to all nations, we must be ready under the leadership of the Holy Spirit to overcome whatever barrier that may come our way like Philip did. We should be motivated to take the gospel to all nations by the love of God who sent His only begotten Son to redeem us from eternal destruction. We should also trust God to guard and guide us from every form of danger as we proclaim His love to others.
1. Considering how a Jew would view the Ethiopian, what do you think motivated Philip to go to him?
2. Why do some Christians find it difficult to obey the Holy Spirit, especially when it comes to taking risks?
B. THE GOOD NEWS PREACHED:
The fact that Philip obeyed the instruction of the Holy Spirit even though the instruction was not detailed at first is noteworthy. He met the Ethiopian eunuch and heard him reading from Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. Philip’s question does not necessarily mean literal understanding but the revelational meaning of the passage, as stated in verse 34. Interestingly, the eunuch admitted his ignorance. He said, “Unless someone explains to me”. Thereafter, he invited Philip to sit with him as he demanded to know more. Philip looked beyond the racial barrier and preached the good news about Jesus Christ to him (v. 35).
Obviously, the role of the Holy Spirit in evangelism cannot be over-emphasised. The Holy Spirit was at work from the beginning when Philip was instructed to go and meet the Ethiopian eunuch who was returning home after worshipping God in Jerusalem. He was also instructed to stay close to the chariot until he was invited by the eunuch to join him. Philip responded to the eunuch’s questions and led him to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Believers should know that nothing, whether physical defect, social status, ethnic affiliation, race or geographical location should keep us from reaching people with the good news (Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38-39). Notable and worthy of emulation is the humility and the teachable spirit of the eunuch. They are essential steps to having the knowledge of salvation (Acts 17:11).
1. Highlight other reasons Christians often give for not sharing the gospel with those around them.
2. What can the church do to help people like the Ethiopian eunuch who are in our churches?
C. THE EUNUCH IS BAPTISED:
As Philip was inspired by the Holy Spirit so also was the heart of the Ethiopian eunuch prepared for the gospel message. He understood the message as explained by Philip and he believed it wholeheartedly. This is evidenced in his request to be baptised when they got to a place where there was water. He said to Philip, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptised?” He ordered the chariot to stop and they both entered the water and he was baptised. The baptism was necessary probably because Phillip had told him of the need for him to physically identify with Christ through baptism. It was an indication that the eunuch sincerely accepted Jesus as his Saviour and Lord and was willing to associate with Him in His death and resurrection, through water baptism.
The ordinance of water baptism is an essential part of the message of salvation because it is the physical representation of what has happened to our spirit, which is death to self and resurrection to life in Christ Jesus. Although Philip was taken away suddenly, the experience remained remarkable in the life of the eunuch, as he went on rejoicing for his newly found faith. Believers should remember that we have been called to break down barriers of any nature in order to reach more nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
1. If water baptism is symbolic, why do some churches overlook the practice in our contemporary time and how can they be helped?
2. Philip explained the Scripture to the Ethiopian eunuch before he was baptised. Based on this, discuss the importance of going through the enquirers’ class in preparation for baptism.
Fellowship and Ministry Building Activity:
● Pair up class members and encourage them to practice telling the story of the gospel clearly to one another. They should pray for the grace of God to always preach the good news.
Take Home: State at least three main lessons you are taking home, based on today’s lesson:
● Based on today’s lesson, make a commitment to share God’s Word whenever you are prompted by the Holy Spirit.
Remain Inspired & Be Lifted!